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24/7 Heats Up: Roach Says He Might Recommend Manny Fire Ariza

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Pacquiao bible study 120522 009aphoto by Chris Farina-Top Rank

In the second installment of HBO’s Pacquiao-Bradley 24/7, viewers are presented with the possibility that Timothy Bradley is a man at peace, not in recent flux, as Manny Pacquiao is, or was. Bradley is grounded, and has been for some time, in family, while Pacquiao has recently comes to grips with an emptiness inside which plagued him, and has now apparently been filled with a fuller embrace of religion.

In the opening scene, we saw Timothy Bradley at the gym he uses in Indio, CA, the Boys and Girls Club. Bradley said he doesn’t need a posse; the unspoken comparison is to Manny Pacquaio, who surrounds himself with a bunch of folks who have no clear job description. Bradley says trainer Joel Diaz is like a big brother to him, and he says he believes when the trainer tells him he will beat Manny.

Diaz recounts an occasion when Bradley ran 23 miles a week before a bout. It was just an eight rounder, the boxer says. Sometimes he works too hard for his own good, Diaz says.

Then, we see Manny’s Ferrari, which has been sitting idle in LA for six months. Pacman heads to the Wild Card, where he does mitts with Freddie. He says LA is like his second home. We hear that as before he trained in Baguio, for three weeks, first conditioning, then sparring, before coming to LA. We hear that Roach and Ariza have been feeling tension, because Ariza left Baguiao to work with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. Ariza said he spoke to Pacman, and he was OK with it. Michael Koncz says he feels the tension, but doesn’t care if Ariza works with Manny or not. Khan fired Ariza for leaving, but Pacman says the media makes a big deal of it. “I gave him permission to leave,” Pacquiao said. (With Ariza’s continued Twitter slaps at Bob Arum, regularly calling him “senile,” one wonders if this exodus will continue. I just can’t picture Ariza winning that battle…but the guy has to get points for being brave-crazy, one could argue. Note: I texted Ariza, asked for a reaction. He called me, asked if, “This was my first 24/7?” I was perplexed, asked him what he was getting at. He asked if it was the first 24/7 I “produced.” I was mystified, and told him, as I’m sure he knows, I’m a writer, that I have nothing to do with producing 24/7. He said something about confusing me with someone else, and hung up on me, and didn’t answer texts asking him to clarify. In his defense, I can imagine that might be upsetting, to hear your friend and mentor say that he’s going to try and convince your top client to fire you. I believe he might have been insinuating that material is played up for effect for 24/7, which is something that Team Mayweather has stated before, when flaps bubble up. But I can’t be sure, because he didn’t clarify to me. This is, for sure, a strange subplot, and has the feel of someone going off the rails a bit. I hope my instinct is wrong. Sunday AM update: Sometime after I went to bed, still perplexed, Ariza texted me, saying that he hadn't seen the show. No response to the provocative Roach critique, for the record. My guess…Moving forward, unless Ariza's self-immolative side is pathological, you have to think Freddie's message will rein him in from his path towards professional self-destruction.)

Bradley, then, is seen running. He runs hills, and says that his foe tries to take food off his table. We see the boxer at a surprise anniversary party for he and his lady. He admits he used to party, but when he was 23, he met Monica, and he knew she was the one. She had two kids, though, and was hesitant to go all in. He said he asked her boy about marrying his mom, and he gave the OK.

Manny then says he is beyond happy, because he has “eternal life. If I die, I know where I’m going,” he says, while the Doobie Brothers’ “Jesus Is Just Alright” plays. We hear that Pacman felt empty, which he told pastor Jeric Soriano. “I’m empty,” he told the pastor, though he had fame and wealth. We see Manny at Bible study. The pastor says this is the real deal, and it’s not for show. The same-sex marriage flap is referred to. One of the posse says a lot of the team is now along for the spiritual ride. “I hate the old Manny,” Pacquiao says, who says he is a “new creation.”

At the Bradley home in Indio, we see Timothy driving stepson Robert to school. Good stuff; I like to see athletes giving up things for family. Bradley then spends quality time with his baby. He says she has a “Bradley head,” a hard head. Then, it’s time to hit the gym. He trains for more than three hours. Later, he does an eight mile jog. “I’m the best,” he roars as he runs. “You gotta prove to me you’re better than me!” His intensity stands out, as we regularly see fighters in this mode; Bradley’s zest seems above and beyond.

Pacman’s pastor has no problem with him doing damage in the ring, he says. Roach said he’s got three next sparring partners, shorter guys, like Bradley. Roach says he thinks that Manny knows people are saying Manny is on the downside. He now has something more to prove to the masses, the doubting hordes. This is the most focused Manny has been, Roach said, in some times.

Roach says that Ariza’s head has gotten too big, and it is mentioned that JCC might have fired Ariza. “One thing about Alex, he's very good at what he does,” says Freddie, in the gym, while the Wild Card hums. “But he just overdid it. He's a great strength coach, but he wants to be trainer, cut man, everything else, his head's gotten too big, and we need to calm him down a little bit…. I think he's bullshitting a little bit, and I don't appreciate that and uh..uh..I'm going to suggest to Manny that we maybe get rid of him or I get a new strength coach.”

All in all, this was a rich episode, with the Ariza-Roach material, and Manny’s confession that he hates his former self. Take that, folks who have said that they think the franchise is stale…

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Tanaka vs. Kimora: A Monday Morning Treat For Serious Fight Fans

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Kosei Tanaka was just 4-0 the first time he was appraised on The Sweet Science back in 2015; the question then was, is Tanaka the world’s brightest boxing prospect? The question now is whether or not Tanaka is about to add a strap at a third weight to an already glittering career that has seen him annex belts at 105 and 108lbs in just his first eight fights.

Now 11-0 with seven knockouts he prepares, this coming Monday, to duel Sho Kimura in Nagoya, Japan and with a lot more than just the WBO trinket on the line.

Hearts and minds, as always, translate into dollars and yen. The winner of this all-Japanese contest will find himself buoyed in fame, glory and gold in his home country, which also happens to be one of the few places on the planet where a boxer can collect a small fortune without ever leaving his native shores. Should the winner dare to dream a wider dream, then that too can be facilitated by the win.  Even fistic denizens of boxing strongholds in Japan and Britain feel a shiver run down their spines when the words “Las Vegas headliner” are whispered into their ear.

The favored man among the hardcore in the west is Tanaka. He is still very young at just twenty-three years old and is slick and quick, what the west expects of a Japanese force. Interestingly enough, however, the Japanese seem to be leaning towards Kimura: older, at twenty-nine, armed with a superb work-rate, good power, limited technique but the conqueror of Chinese superstar Shiming Zou who he stopped in the summer of 2017. Zou may have had his bubble burst by the Thai brawler Amnat Ruenroeng in 2015, but it was Kimura who sent him stumbling into retirement and at a time when the talk was of China stealing Japan’s thunder as boxing’s home in the east.

Kimura was indeed impressive that night in Shanghai. He maintained pressure with wonderful variety, eschewing the jab, perhaps, for spells, but filling those gaps with an assortment of wonderful punches, most of all his body attack, which was persistent, withering, and apparently went unscored by two of the three judges who somehow had the Chinese ahead at the time of the eleventh round stoppage. Zou had shown a skill for flurrying while fleeing and Kimura had shown him how to fight.

Now a strapholder at 112lbs, Kimura staged two defenses in the following twelve months. The first was against Toshiyuki Igarashi, the man who beat Sonny Boy Jaro, the man who had beaten the superb champion Pongsaklek Wonjongkam before a softer fight against Froilan Saludar. He won both by stoppage.

Kimura, then, rather came from nowhere but made the most of his arrival. What he displayed in all three of these fights was a determination to offer pressure and footwork educated enough to do it while taking many fewer steps than his harried opponent. A tad overrated as a puncher, I suspect, he places himself in hitting position often enough that his default fight plan – chase, harass, throw – makes him capable of hurting his opponents by way of persistence and pressure.

He left Zou, Igarashi and Saludar, broken in his wake.

In short, he is the type of opponent Kosei Tanaka has been waiting for.

There have been calls for Tanaka to be considered a pound-for-pound talent should he overcome Kimura this Monday. I understand the impulse. Tanaka, were he to triumph, would become a three-weight world champion and he hails from a boxing territory which has little direct control over the meaningful pound-for-pound lists, if such a statement is not a contradiction in terms.

In short, it is felt he would be undervalued.

Tempering these calls is the fact that he has never beaten a divisional number one and that Kimura would be, by far, the best opponent he would have bested, and the most proven. Some Tanaka opponents have come good after he defeated them, some were ranked in the lower reaches of their respective divisional top tens when he matched them, but none are scalps as impressive as those dangled by the likes of Errol Spence or Anthony Joshua, who populate the nine, ten and eleven spots in reputable lists.

But this is neither here nor there; the key is not what Kimura does not represent, it is what he does represent. He is the best that Tanaka has met and, I would argue, the first truly elite fighter that Tanaka has met. He is the litmus test and he is one with a stylistic advantage.

Tanaka can punch. Here we will find out whether or not he punches hard enough to keep Kimura off him. Personally, I doubt it and that means that Kimura is going to hand him a serious gut check.

Interestingly, it will not be Tanaka’s first. The first time I wrote about him I stressed that his chin was essentially untested. That is no longer true. Tanaka, who is reasonably sound defensively, can be lazy in minding himself and foolish in pursuing the attack.

Thai puncher Rangsan Chayanram checked him in 2017, delivering a serious eye injury among other ignominies before succumbing in nine; puncher Angel Acosta, a ranked fighter if not a great one, hit and hurt Tanaka repeatedly late in their 2017 contest. If Tanaka has been learning these lessons, expectations concerning his potential may be realized. If he is not, he will fall short. Kimura is the man to test him.

Kimura’s experience and seemingly limitless twelve-round stamina are to be pitted against Tanaka’s skill, proven heart and taut footwork. It sees a superior technician – Tanaka – who has shown a propensity for being drawn into a cruder fighter’s wheelhouse matching an aggressive stalker – Kimura – who specializes in drawing technically superior foes into knockdown-drag-out scraps.

It is framed both as a fight that is likely to finish a future pound-for-pounder’s education and a fight where a young pretender is found out by a grizzled veteran.

Best of all, it is a fight that fight fans can watch for free, simply by clicking here.  The Asian Boxing website has secured exclusive international rights to the fight and will broadcasting it, free of charge, to anyone with an internet connection. As can be seen here, the fight is due to start at 4pm Japanese time.

All the reader has to do is find out what that means for timing in their own corner of the globe and a potential fight of the year will unfold before his or her eyes free of charge.

World class boxing being broadcast for free and including two of the best below 115lbs; a stylistic crossroads contest that opens up the on-ramp to pound-for-pound recognition for at least one of the combatants – on a Monday.  All facts worth keeping in mind the next time that someone tells you boxing’s prime was any number of decades ago.

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Fast Results From London: Joshua Takes Out Povetkin in the 7th

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UK sporting

It was a very wet night at Wembley Stadium, but the dampness didn’t diminish the enthusiasm of the crowd which welcomed UK sporting hero Anthony Joshua into the ring with a thunderous ovation. And Joshua didn’t disappoint. After six relatively even rounds, he found his range in the seventh and became the first man to stop Alexander Povetkin. A three punch combo that began with an overhand right sent Povetkin sprawling into the ropes. The Russian beat the count, but Joshua smelled blood and as soon as the ref allowed the proceedings to continue he moved in for the kill. The official time was 1:59.

Povetkin started fast and in the eyes of many observers won the first three rounds. A sharp right hand in the waning seconds of round one reddened Joshua’s nose which leaked blood in the next round. The tide began to turn in round four when Povetkin suffered a cut above his left eye.

Povetkin (now 34-2), was the lighter man by 23 pounds. Joshua had a four inch height advantage and a seven inch reach advantage. And it mattered greatly that AJ was the younger man by 10-plus years. Povetkin wasn’t intimidated by Joshua and had several good moments but, at age 39, his reflexes betrayed him once the fight had crossed the midpoint.

Joshua, who owns three of the four meaningful heavyweight title belts, improved to 22-0 with his 21st stoppage. His next fight is penciled in for April 13 of next year against an opponent to be determined. His promoter Eddie Hearn has reserved that date at Wembley Stadium.

Other Bouts

In a 12-round lightweight bout, Joshua’s Olympic Games teammate and fellow gold medalist Luke Campbell (19-2) avenged the first loss of his career with a unanimous decision (119-109, 118-111,116-112) over France’s Yvan Mendy (40-5-1). This was Campbell’s second start since coming up short in a bid for Jorge Linares’s lightweight title and his first fight under his new trainer Shane McGuigan.

In their first meeting in December of 2015 at London’s O2 Arena, Mendy won a split decision that should have been unanimous. Campbell insisted that he had improved greatly in the interim and tonight’s fight bore witness. However, he needs to develop a harder punch to rank among the top lightweights in the world, a list headed by Mikey Garcia. As this fight was framed as a WBC title eliminator, Campbell is next in line to meet Garcia, but Mikey has indicated that he will pursue bigger game.

Lawrence Okolie, a 2016 Olympian who trains with Anthony Joshua, won a Lonsdale belt in only his 10th pro start with a 12-round decision over defending BBBofC cruiserweight champion Matty Askin in a messy fight. The undefeated Okolie had a point deducted in round five for leading with his head and had two more points deducted for holding, but banked enough rounds to get the nod on all three cards: 116-110, 114-112, and 114-113. Askin, who declined to 23-4-1, had won five straight heading in.

A 10-round heavyweight match between Sergey Kuzmin (13-0, 1 NC) and David Price (22-6) ended suddenly when Price retired on his stool after four relatively even rounds. The six-foot-eight, china-chinned Price claimed to have aggravated a biceps tear.

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Michael Dutchover Remains Undefeated in Ontario, Calif.

Transplanted Texan Michael Dutchover needed a little time to figure out Costa Rican Bergman Aguilar but when he did it was over quickly on Friday.

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Michael Dutchover

ONTARIO-Calif.-Transplanted Texan Michael Dutchover needed a little time to figure out Costa Rican Bergman Aguilar but when he did it was over quickly on Friday.

Lightweight prospect Dutchover (11-0, 8 KOs) knocked out southpaw Aguilera (14-4-1, 4 KOs) in the fifth round with a barrage of body blows that left the Costa Rican limp at the Doubletree Hotel.

For two rounds Aguilar used an awkward counter-punching style that had Dutchover a little tentative. But once he figured out that combination punching was the key, he opened up with barrages and floored Aguilar with body shots at the end of round four.

That signaled doom for Aguilar.

The fifth round saw Dutchover target the body with impunity as Aguilar tried holding, running and covering up with no success. Referee Wayne Hedgepeth signaled the fight over at 2:31 of the fifth round giving Dutchover the win by knockout.

In a bantamweight clash Santa Ana’s Mario Hernandez (7-0-1, 3 KOs) and Mexico City’s Ivan Gonzalez (4-1-2, 1 KO) fought to a majority draw after six back and forth rounds.

Hernandez targeted the body against the taller Gonzalez who relied on long range counters. Both found success but neither could prove superiority after six turbulent rounds.

After six rounds one judge saw it 58-56 for Gonzalez but the two other judges saw it 57-57 for a majority draw.

Other bouts

South Central L.A.’s Ruben Torres (7-0, 6 KOs) extended his undefeated streak with a knockout over Mexico’s Eder “El Koreano” Amaro (6-6, 2 KOs) in a lightweight fight. But it wasn’t easy.

Amaro switched from southpaw to orthodox and was matching Torres for two rounds until the taller local fighter began blasting away to the body and head with precision. Many in the crowd cheered “Koreano” in unison but it couldn’t help once Torres zeroed in.

At the end of the fourth round Amaro could not continue and the fight was stopped giving a knockout for Torres.

Richard Brewart Jr. (2-0) mowed through Edward Aceves (0-5) flooring him with body shots in the first round then overwhelming him in the second. After seven unanswered blows referee Eddie Hernandez stopped the fight at 1:32 of round two giving Rancho Cucamonga’s Brewart the win by knockout in the super welterweight bout.

Southpaw David Ortiz (1-0) won his pro debut by unanimous decision after four rounds in a welterweight match against San Diego’s Mario Angeles (2-11-2). Ortiz lives in Bloomington, Calif. and is trained by Henry Ramirez. No knockdowns were scored.

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